Pros: Remarkably comfy, make me feel incredibly confident, easy to care for, look amazing
Cons: Slightly too narrow for me, blacks don't match, sewing machine markes
I was a happy 24 year old with my first real job and no decent shoes. I read that good shoes could be resoled and last decades, so I went to AE because it was reasonably priced and made in the US. (I found later the uppers are made in Brazil, a shameful deception.)
The sales guy was out of calf Leeds in my size (9EEE) so he showed me the shells cordovan ones. I was immediately in love. I got a pair in black and a pair in color 8. Did I get upsold like woah? Totally. And I don't care.
For the most part, they are gorgeous and surprisingly comfortable. I don't like too much padding so I like the stacked leather soles. It took a while to learn the dark arts of polishing shell, but it's easy and fun. Now that they're two years old they still get welts from water, but not very badly.
Here are problems:
All the stitches have marks from the part of the sewing machine that clamps down on the leather to move it through the machine. It takes the form of a 1/8th inch of dimples running in a line along each seam. I wish it were smoother. Also there are two places where stitches have frayed a little.
BUYER BEWARE: my black shoes don't match. One is slightly shinier than the other no matter what I do.
Also I have flippers instead of feet, so my toes feel a little pinched even in the extra wide shoes.
BOTTOM LINE - I think they're stunning, but I bet any shell oxford would look the same to me. Every time I put the black pair on, I still get a little annoyed that one of them is shinier. Just be careful about making sure they match and you'll have yourself long lasting shoes that make you feel capable and classy.